United stand: Brics reaffirms multilateral trade per WTO rules

United stand: Brics reaffirms multilateral trade per WTO rules
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Brazilian President Michel Temer during the 10th Brics summit in Johannesburg on Thursday.

Johannesburg - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa find collective voice championing global trade at three-day summit

By Reuters

Published: Thu 26 Jul 2018, 8:57 PM

Last updated: Thu 26 Jul 2018, 10:58 PM

Leaders of the Brics bloc signed a declaration supporting an open and inclusive multilateral trading system as envisaged by the World Trade Organisation at a summit on Thursday in South Africa.
Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have found a collective voice championing global trade at the three-day summit, vowing to fight unilateralism and protectionism in the wake of tariff threats by US President Donald Trump.
"We recognise that the multilateral trading system is facing unprecedented challenges. We underscore the importance of an open world economy," the declaration signed by the five leaders said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a concerted effort by global institutions such as the United Nations, the G7 and the World Trade Organisation to fight unilateralism and protectionism in a speech on Thursday at the event.
Xi also called for dialogue to settle disputes on global trade.
"We must work together... to safeguard the rule-based multilateral trading regime; promote trade and investment, globalisation and facilitation; and reject protectionism outright," Xi said.
On Wednesday, Xi said there would be no winner in a global trade war.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called for more trade within the Brics bloc.
He said the Brics grouping represented a significant portion of global gross domestic product and welcomed closer cooperation between businesses from the countries within the bloc.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for the bloc's members to harness technology to develop their economies.
The meeting of Brics leaders is the first since Trump's administration launched a push to rebalance trade multilateralism that Trump has deemed unfair - relationships that the United States once championed.
S. Africa-Russia nuclear deal
Meanwhile, South Africa cannot afford large-scale expansion of its nuclear power capacity but would still be open to future deals with Russia, a senior ruling party official said on Thursday, shortly before the arrival of Putin at the summit.
Russian state firm Rosatom was one of the front runners for a project to increase South Africa's nuclear power-generating capacity championed by former president Jacob Zuma. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has put nuclear expansion on the back burner since taking office in February, saying it is too expensive, and has focused instead on pledges to revive the economy and crack down on corruption. African National Congress treasurer-general Paul Mashatile, one of the six most powerful members of the ruling party, said Pretoria would not rush into major nuclear investments but that it was still open to deals.
"Once we are clear that this is affordable for us to do, we are open for business including with Russia," Mashatile said on the sidelines of a three-day Brics summit.
"I think the approach we will take is to avoid the Big Bang approach. The initial intervention was that we would do close to 10,000 megawatts... It's unaffordable," he said.
Mashatile also said the ANC wanted greater private investment in struggling state-owned power utility Eskom, which swung to a loss for the year to end-March.
Russia wants to turn nuclear energy into a major export industry. It has signed agreements with African countries with no nuclear tradition, including Rwanda and Zambia, and is set to build a large nuclear plant in Egypt.
Rosatom signed a separate agreement with South Africa's state nuclear firm on Thursday to explore joint production of nuclear medicines and other ways of harnessing nuclear technology, a statement from the two firms showed.

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